Progress: The FDNY Now Has as Many Female Firefighters as It Did In 1982

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Photo by Santiago Felipe
Sarinya Srisakul, current president of the United Women Firefighters.
Tuesday is graduation day at the New York City Fire Academy, and this particular ceremony also doubles as a bit of a landmark. The graduation takes place at the Christian Cultural Center in Brooklyn; Mayor Bill de Blasio is scheduled to address the new graduates at 11 a.m., along with outgoing Fire Commissioner Salvatore Cassano and Department Chief Edward Kilduff. The mayor will be speaking to a graduating class of 286 people, about 45 percent of whom identify as black, Latino or Asian. And four of them are women, bringing the total number of female firefighters in the FDNY to 41. There haven't been that many women in the department since 1982, the first year the FDNY was required to allow female firefighters to serve following a lengthy court battle.

There are about 10,500 active-duty firefighters in the FDNY, meaning that even with the new graduates, women make up less than one half of one percent of their ranks. For the United Women Firefighters, today's graduation represents real, if frustratingly slow, progress.

The UWF is a fraternal organization that represents female firefighters in the FDNY. In a statement, they expressed both optimism about their growing numbers and continuing frustration at the snail-like speed at which women are hired in the department:

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Female Firefighters Hope New FDNY Commissioner Can Do Something About All the Sexism [UPDATED]

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Dominic Perri
Retired FDNY captain Brenda Berkman was reportedly on de Blasio's shortlist of candidates.
On Friday, five months into his term, Mayor Bill de Blasio finally announced his new pick to lead the New York City Fire Department, appointing Dan Nigro as FDNY Commmissioner.

Nigro is eminently qualified: he's a 32-year veteran of the department, their former Chief of Operations, and on September 11, led the FDNY through its brutal and heartbreaking search and rescue mission at Ground Zero. (Because of that last qualification, he's also been mentioned in some particularly convoluted 9/11 conspiracy theories, too dumb to get into here, which he has politely and with a great deal of self control called "without merit.".)

But Nigro's appointment was also a bit of a surprise, following reports that de Blasio was looking at a number of women and people of color to fill the position, including retired captain Brenda Berkman, former FDNY attorney Mylan Denerstein, and Rochell "Rocky" Jones, the city's first female fire captain.

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Catholic League President: Brutal Treatment of Women at Ireland's Infamous Magdalene Laundries Is "All A Lie"

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Bill Donohue, whose face always looks like that.
So, what's perpetually aggrieved Catholic League president Bill Donohue mad about this week? Is it gay people? Is it the "bizarre" notion of gay people getting married? Is it all those gay priests sneaking into the Catholic Church (who are the real problem over there, in Donohue's mind anyway, rather than all that child abuse)?

The man has a bit of a theme, is what we're saying. But Donohue switched gears yesterday, taking time away from his busy schedule of gay-hating and light art criticism to declare, bizarrely, that Ireland's infamous Magdalene Laundries were "a myth" and "a lie."

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Why New Yorkers Should Care About the Insane Anti-Abortion Laws Being Passed in Texas Right Now

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Don't get smug. We have anti-abortion activists here too.
I just got back to New York after a couple years abroad in Texas, and I'll be damned if some stupid, awful bullshit didn't trail home with me. As you've no doubt heard by now, the Texas Legislature is on the verge of passing some incredibly broad anti-abortion legislation , designed to ban abortions after 20 weeks, shut down most clinics in the state under the guise of "improved" safety standards, and make it much harder for women to obtain medication abortions (RU-486, aka the "abortion pill").

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New York NOW Endorses Christine Quinn for Mayor

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Wikimedia Commons
For the mayoral race, another day, another endorsement. But this time, it falls upon an electoral landmark. Today, the Daily News has reported that the New York chapter of the National Organization for Women will officially endorse City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, a candidate who, if elected, will be the first female and openly gay mayor in New York City's history.

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Iranian Technology, Gays, Women's Suffrage All Credited With Causing Hurricane Sandy

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Naked Pastor
Duh.
Hurricane Sandy was caused by Iranian technology that's capable of controlling weather patterns to punish Iran's enemies and the enemies of its friends. The reason the storm hit New York so hard is because God is punishing the Empire State for defying his word and allowing gay people to get married.

But what really caused the storm was "American arrogance" -- it's just nature's way of giving the U.S. a "divine slap" for its godless policies, including allowing women to vote.

Those are just a few of the theories laid out on the blogosphere by morons who unfortunately are allowed Internet access.

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New York Women March For Equal Rights; Boob Puns Ensue *PHOTOS* (NSFW)

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Samantha Shokin
Boobies!

Chanting "Nipples! Nipples!!!" in a crowded street is one surefire way to draw attention. Flashing nipples is another. 

Yesterday, unsuspecting Times Square pedestrians got a bit of both, in a fleshy display of female empowerment. Coinciding with Women's Equality Day, the fifth annual Go-Topless Day -- an initiative started by GoTopless.org to protest "unconstitutional gender discrimination" -- urged ladies to liberate themselves by liberating their areolas (see NSFW photos after the jump).

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Susan G. Komen for The Cure Resignations: Do They Matter?

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So there has apparently been a big leadership shakeup at Susan G. Komen for the Cure, the country's best known breast cancer charity, after its stupid, stupid decision to cut funding to Planned Parenthood in January resulted in public outrage.

The changes? As per Komen P.R.: "Founder and CEO Nancy G. Brinker announced plans to move to a new management role focusing on revenue creation, strategy and global growth as chair of the Komen Board Executive Committee when the search for a new senior executive has been completed. At the same time, Komen President Liz Thompson announced plans to leave the organization in September."

Also: "Board members Brenda Lauderback and Linda Law, who have served on the Komen board since 2008 and 2009 respectively, are leaving the board of directors."

This announcement comes, of course, after Karen Handel, Komen's vice president for public policy, stepped down in February.

For what it's worth (probably nothing), Komen spokespeople totally promise that these changes have nothing to do with the January mess.

All that said, we wonder: Can these changes make any difference?

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Nan Hayworth's Lady Problems: Did Her Campaign Manager Tell Women 'To Wear as Little As Possible' To Party?

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An example of a woman.
Let's say -- completely hypothetically, simply for the sake of argument, of course -- that you are running a Congressional campaign.

And let's also say -- again, completely hypothetically, simply for the sake of argument -- that your first campaign manager spokesman recently resigned after writing a Facebook wall post that said: "Let's hurl some acid at those female democratic Senators who won't abide the mandates they want to impose on the private sector."

It would seem -- once more, completely hypothetically, simply for the sake of argument -- that your next campaign staffer probably shouldn't also have a history of saying sketchy things about women, because that would be (A) dodgy and (B) just plain bad politics.

For Republican Rep. Nan Hayworth, of New York's 18th Congressional District, however, this (perplexingly) is not a hypothetical at all.

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Free Contraception For All! Obamacare Gets Rid of Co-Pay For Birth Control, and Unsuprisingly Pisses Off The Catholic Church

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Today, for the first time in history, women across the nation will receive contraceptives without cost

Today brings free contraception for all (as long as you're one of the millions insured and you don't work for a Catholic organization), under the Affordable Care Act. Effective today, these provisions cover most major preventive services without a co-pay.

According to data provided by Planned Parenthood, women spend nearly $600 annually on birth control. The organization says that 45 million women are already benefiting from the ACA and that these new provisions will provide 12.8 million women of reproductive age access to insurance coverage.

We spoke to Alice Berger, VP of Health Care Planning at Planned Parenthood NYC, to find out more about how these provisions will impact the women of New York City.


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